More than Half of U.S. Hospitals Have at Least a Basic EHR, But Stage 2 Criteria Remain Challenging for Most

Cover of the September Health Affairs

The national effort to promote the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs) is well under way.

However, 2014 marks an important transition: For many hospitals, penalties will be assessed in fiscal year 2015 for failing to meet federal meaningful-use criteria by the end of fiscal year 2014.

The researchers used recent data from the American Hospital Association Annual Survey of Hospitals—IT Supplement to assess progress and challenges. EHR adoption among U.S. hospitals continues to rise steeply: 59 percent now have at least a basic EHR. Small and rural hospitals continue to lag behind their better resourced counterparts. Most hospitals are able to meet many of the stage 2 meaningful-use criteria, but only 5.8 percent of hospitals are able to meet them all. Several criteria, including sharing care summaries with other providers and providing patients with online access to their data, will require attention from EHR vendors to ensure that the necessary functions are available and additional effort from many hospitals to make certain that these functionalities are used.

Policy-makers may want to consider new targeted strategies to ensure that all hospitals move toward meaningful use of EHRs.